Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Excuse me, you're standing on my principles

A few years ago - must have been more than four, because that's how old this blog is and I would have mentioned it - round about this time of year I got a mailing from the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. These are artists who would be very talented even if they were able to use their hands to paint. They can't, for sundry reasons, hence the name of the outfit, and thus are even more worthy of respect. Their pictures are very good indeed, which I say in the full knowledge I couldn't draw my way out of a paper bag. Nor do they want to live off charity - they intend to pay their way. Respect.

What a shame they do it in the most unseasonably cynical, manipulative way possible. The mailing contained a bundle of Christmas cards painted by said individuals. Very nice Christmas cards. Proper Christmassy scenes. Nothing cutesy or twee. With a Christmas message inside - none of this "Season's Greetings" twaddle. The covering letter said I was under no obligation whatsoever but if I liked the cards they really hoped I'd buy them ...

Which I did, with a covering letter of my own saying that admired their work, despised their tactics, and any further unsolicited bundles of cards would be treated as a gift. I didn't hear from them again for at least five years, until last week when they kindly sent me another present.

AAGH! Curse these principles of mine.

The cards are good. The artists are amazing. Their marketing is beyond contempt. If they had just repeated the stunt year after year I would find it much easier to live up to my promise and treat the cards as a gift. But, five years minimum? They may well have a new marketing person. They may be working off an old backup. Or, are they just thinking that enough water has passed under the bridge for me to soften up. How's a guy to know? How annoying that the one known, guaranteed constant is their utterly shameless, scheming emotional blackmail.

So, no, sorry. I said what I'd do and I'm doing it. I've sent the cards out to various friends (hey, free advertising! They do get something out of this) and I'm not paying. There are plenty of charities out there that play the game. Okay, this lot emphasise they're not a charity ... well, there are worse things, you know. You don't have to Bernard Cribbins in The Railway Children. And if you were a charity, any donations could be Gift Aided.

Anyway, what are they going to do? Beat me up?


  1. Hey man,

    Thanks for supporting us anyway. If not for Mouth & Foot Painting I would be in a nursing home.

  2. Anonymous8:11 pm

    I hardly think their tactics should be described as "cynical, manipulative and beyond contempt". This seems to be simply a business decision (made by people in difficult circumstances)-- like so many companies that send out thousands of random mailings, knowing they'll be lucky to get a 1% response rate. I love the cards, but I'm really interested in art.

    By the way, speaking of "cynical and manipulative" --that wouldn't by chance apply to 95% of our Christmas "enterprise", would it? (Or...let's see, the oil industry, the food business, the God business, politics....)

    Keep and use the cards without remorse--those are the rules of the game, which the artists clearly accept. However, here's another thought for you. We're all obligated to help out in some way. Why don't you set aside a certain percentage of your income and help others with it? Maybe the Foot and Mouth Artists from time to time, maybe not. Most businesses and corporations have a specific % earmarked for giving and good works in their community. A great service is kiva.com (or kiva.org?). It's a microlending service (lending, not giving), $25 at a time, and you can look at and choose among requests from small-scale entrepreneurs all over the world. (AND!! --unlike some of the "pillars" of our society, their payback rate is 98+ %


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